Antwone Fisher, a young Navy seaman, overcomes his violent tendencies and abusive childhood to find a side of himself he has kept hidden for years. It has a touch of the Good Will Hunting about it, with Denzel Washington playing a psychiatrist who is somewhat repressed himself, helping the promising kid recognize his own greatness, and learning a valuable lesson in the process himself. But the story isn’t so much about embracing your opportunities as about taking control of your self, and realizing that although your past can shape you, it doesn’t define you.
This is Denzel Washington’s directorial debut, and the only point where he sets a foot wrong is right at the very end, where he gives his own character an awkward “you helped me more than I helped you” speech. Yuck. It’s Derek Luke who steals the show, though. His performance as Antwone Fisher, from repressed anger to awkwardly romantic, is extraordinary.